How I got myself here, naked and chained to an 'I' bolt in her bedroom closet is really not important now. I'd been in strange positions before, it goes with the job.
Three months ago I was hired by the family of a 17 year old boy who had disappeared on his way home from high school. I didn't really want to take the job, these things always end up tragically and I wasn't in the mood for another dead end case, so to speak. I'd seen my share of tragedy and misery as a police officer, that's why I took early retirement after just 12 years. As it turned out, Mom and Dad were loaded as well as desperate even going as far as to offer me an unlimited expense account on top of my fee. Every man has his price, so I took the job knowing full well the odds were their young son, missing for over a month, was probably gone for good.
I started with the usual questions.
"Is there a chance he just ran away?" I said to the crying mother. "Did he have a girlfriend? How about trouble in school? Did his father beat him? Was he depressed, into drugs?"
"No, not my Jimmy, he was a good boy, almost an Eagle scout, he went to church every Sunday." she sobbed.
The family background check left little to suspect, even the neighbors had good things to say about Jimmy. "Jimmy mows my lawn for free. Jimmy walked my dogs when I broke my legs. Jimmy counted the shingles on my roof for the insurance company." A real saint that Jimmy, I remember thinking.
After a week of chasing dead ends, I decided to walk Jimmy's route from school to home. About half way I came across a stop and rob grocery store with a security camera facing the sidewalk. Two hundred dollars poorer and an hour older, I was sitting in front of my TV searching the security tape of that day for any evidence of Jimmy.
"Bingo." I said to my empty office. There he was, big as day walking through the parking lot . As I watched the tall boy walk with confidence, a dark four door sedan pulled up next to him and rolled down the passenger side window. After just a few minutes of conversation, Jimmy opened the door got in and the car drove off.
Curious, I thought, did he know this person. Obviously he was smart enough not to get into a car with a stranger, or was he? As I said, I've seen a lot of strange things in my line of work. I quickly moved the video from my VCR to my computer where I enhanced the license plate image.
"Smoke-Mistress" it said. A personalized license plate, finally I caught a break. Should be easy to track, just a few clicks to a paid website and I had all the vital statistics I needed.
Name: Ms. Amanda Stillwell.
Address: 17014 Swallows Estate Rd.
Occupation: M.D. Internal Medicine.
How could he possibly know someone like her, she lives 30 miles outside of town in a secluded area where the nearest neighbors would be 10 miles away or more. Even more interesting, what would a very wealthy woman like Ms. Stillwell want with Jimmy? Looking back on it now, there were so many things I should have done before I stupidly drove off in the night chasing hunches… To be continued ...